If it ain’t broke… ah, hell, tinker with it anyway.

Stewart Mandel traveled to Tampa, Florida, spoke with various CFB movers and shakers and proclaims the eight-team playoff currently has less life in it than Charlie Weis’ career prospects.

During my stay in Tampa, I spoke with numerous commissioners, ADs, coaches, players, bowl executives, TV executives and other industry officials. The consensus vibe was that of overwhelming satisfaction with the system they created four-and-a-half years ago. In nearly every key area it has met or exceeded their expectations.

Not coincidentally, I sense zero appetite across the sport for an eight-team playoff. Before the CFP started, I predicted the system would expand halfway through ESPN’s 12-year contract. I was wrong. There’s even less support for the idea now than there was then.

Now I could start to lay into this by noting the folly that a large part of his conclusion is drawn from Bill Hancock’s confidence in the current arrangement, but I’ll take a pass on the low hanging fruit to focus on another point Mandel makes.

For one thing, power brokers on both the playoff and TV side are pleased with the positive effect they’ve seen on the regular season. The BCS first helped turn the traditionally regionalized sport into a more national model; the CFP has only enhanced that.

In particular, the intense focus on the four-team race once the committee starts producing its weekly rankings in early November has raised the stakes for games that previously might have flown under the radar.  [Emphasis added.]

So the shift to a more national model is seen as an enhancement.  And the selection committee’s weekly rankings being flogged relentlessly has raised the profile of certain games.  Before writing that, I wonder if Mandel thought about this year’s Iron Bowl, which was reduced to an irrelevancy in the eyes of many —  prompted in large part by ESPN’s narrative — after Auburn’s loss to Georgia meant the Tigers had zero chance of attaining the national semi-finals.  I guess we’re gonna have to disagree on that whole enhancement thing.

The rest of his piece is a mish-mash of contradictory signs of marketing acceptance and money-making (which is all that really matters, when you get down to it).  This, in particular, is truly depressing:

Finally, give the folks in charge credit for achieving one particular vision. When I first interviewed College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly in 2014 for my book about the playoff, he spoke of turning the sport’s new national championship game (the first to be played outside of the traditional bowl system) as “a hybrid” of the Final Four and Super Bowl.

This year’s game in Tampa felt like exactly that. Unlike initial sites Arlington, Texas and Glendale, Arizona — where events were spread out across large metroplexes — fans, media and industry folks all seemed to congregate in downtown. Media Day was at Amalie Arena, a fan fest at the adjacent convention center, concerts (with acts like Usher and Flo Rida) at a nearby park. Many of us stayed at hotels within walking distance of everything but Raymond James Stadium itself.

Expect a similar setup next year in Atlanta.

Mind you, the staggering costs involved did not exactly make the game accessible to the common fan. Even the lowest-priced tickets on sites like StubHub were approaching $2,000 by kickoff.

Yes, credit is certainly due.  Pricing out the common fan from the biggest game of the season is exactly what the sport was missing to make it truly special.

At least it’s more convenient for the media now.  That’s gotta count for something in Montana.

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41 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

41 responses to “If it ain’t broke… ah, hell, tinker with it anyway.

  1. I like the concept of 4. I hate the concept of the selection committee. The BCS formula was sufficient to select the 4 teams even if that would have meant Corch and his band of the “top 1% of the top 1%” got in. Finally, I’ll never spend $2,000 on a football ticket even if I missed Georgia’s appearance in a national title game.

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  2. If they want regional appeal to stay important, then require a conference championship to get in, and then go back to conferences that actually make geographic sense.

    To the Senator’s point I think: as long as the TV money keeps flowing, they don’t really GAS.

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  3. 92 grad

    Mandel. He was a good read back in his early SI days. I’m offended mostly by the notion that he claims to have the pulse of all that is college football figured out, just read his stuff and you got it. I hate when people position themselves out of their depth…

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  4. Macallanlover

    The “common fan” doesn’t attend that game anyway, even if it were only $50 a ticket. He/she also doesn’t go to home games, they watch football at home, or with friends in sports bars. A minority actually attend games, and only the elite among those can take several days off at the last minute, pay for round trip plane tickets, stay in over priced hotel rooms, enjoy the food/drink/events surrounding the festivities, much less buy tickets from brokers/scalpers. Very few tickets were bought at that $1500+ price, that is more for shock value in the article. Next year in Atlanta, they will have to add the price of protection if they plan on hanging around downtown or gassing up at local C-Stores, like the old west on many days.

    Also, the Iron Bowl wasn’t national in interest before the BCS or playoffs. Having an assured match up of top teams has most definitely enhanced the regular season as fans watch/follow teams outside their region.

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    • Also, the Iron Bowl wasn’t national in interest before the BCS or playoffs. Having an assured match up of top teams has most definitely enhanced the regular season as fans watch/follow teams outside their region.

      You’ve missed the point. CFB was doing just swell as a regional sport.

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      • Macallanlover

        It was, no question. But fans following teams from different regions expanded because they are competing for spots. I hear discussion throughout the year with PAC12 fans talking about SEC, or ACC games because they impact them. Not sure there is any question it has nationalized the game for much of the season, but it will always have a regional bias.

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    • Yeah, downtown ATL is a crime ridden hellhole. How is it again that they keep getting huge events if it’s so bad?

      I’ll hang up and listen.

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      • Russ

        Was thinking the same thing.

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      • PTC DAWG

        Ed Zachery..some folks never leave Hahira.

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        • Uglydawg

          Next time you get some nice produce from the Fresh Market, realize that someone from someplace like Hahira is feeding you. Your comment is just as prejudiced as Mac’s (perceived) remark.

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      • I see others have already issued the corrective. I’m not in ATL a lot, but when I am, I’m pretty much in Midtown and I’ve never felt unsafe.

        Now, put me on I-75 north of the perimeter and I feel keenly aware that my life is hanging by a thread. SUV-wielding Cobb Countians are the #57 reason I’ll never likely see a live Braves game again.

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        • The Cobb Countians like to travel to St Simons Island/Jekyll Island/Brunswick area on many occasions throughout the year and they bring the same sub-par driving skills to the quaint coastal region. Of course, they think they own the place when they get here.

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          • HirsuteDawg

            Damn, you don’t have to be from Cobb County. Columbus/Muscogee County drivers never heard of a blinker and sub-par driving skills do not begin to describe how bad it can be.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Just Chuck (the other one)

              Are we voting for our “favorite” bad driver location? I pick I-75 through Ocala any time of the day. In fact, anywhere in Florida is pretty bad.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Uglydawg

              If you see me with my blinker on, it’s probably because it was on when I bought the truck. Like the farmer in the funny story told the sheriff that pulled him over for not giving a signal when he turned off the highway, “I didn’t turn my blinker on because you were behind me and you know I live down this road”.

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          • Uglydawg

            You need them, though. You can enjoy watching them navigate the roundabout while you feed at Southern Soul BBQ…and get the collards, they’re good.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Gaskilldawg

      “Next year in Atlanta they will have to add the price of protection if they plan on hanging downtown….” Yean, Mac, all those MBA types living in Castleberry Hill, or in downtown lofts or in West Midtown are SCARY. You never know when some crazy broker will try to sell you a shitty stock.

      You may want to update your list of stereotypes.

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      • Macallanlover

        Has nothing to do with “stereotypes” you may want to brush up on that definition. And no one said there aren’t some damn good people, regardless of income or educational level, that live throughout the Atlanta area. It only takes one bad person to disrupt dozens, or hundreds, of innocent people. You may want to zealously defend Atlanta’s violence record, I don’t. But I do remember when I felt safe in ATL, now I never go without a weapon….and I advise anyone I care about to do the same. The odds may be in your favor any given day but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. Only takes a few seconds to wish you had.

        Enjoy yourself roaming around, not sure why everyone gets upset about a difference of perception. I can promise you, I am not the only person who has backed away from doing a lot in Atlanta but it doesn’t mean everyone feels that way.

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        • You might want to brush up on “dog whistling”. Just say what you really mean. We’re all smart enough to read between the lines.

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          • Macallanlover

            Yeah, because we really don’t each other don’t we dawg? Exactly the jumping off the cliff with no facts that hurt message bpards and civil discourse. Perhaps your stereotyping is the issue. Open your mind, everyone doesn’t have evil intent when they disagree with your position. And if you have mind reading capabilities, be prepared to prove it. You know a sliver about me, and even that is tempered by the way we “know” eacj other. Hard to take folks who speak like this seriously.

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            • Gaskilldawg

              You are right I do not know you and I do not know what you think. I do know what you say and you made an incorrect statement about the danger of attending a football game in downtown and my ignorance of your heart does not make your incorrect assumption about downtown correct.

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        • Tim Rankine

          What effing foolishness is this?

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        • Gaskilldawg

          Your stereotype is the crime ridden downtown Atlanta. I don’t need to brush up to see that.
          I also recognize that you are not the only person sharing that misconception.

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          • Gastri or Gaskill go sit by yourself in Woodruff Park at 2 A.M. and get back with us after that little experiment. Lots of gang bangers, thieves ,crazies and homeless accompanying the smell of urine.down there( I’ll probably be appointed to represent the fine individual you come in “contact” with during this experiment. If you think that Atlanta does not have significant crime issues you don’t understand the politics of how crimes are reported in major cities. The administration at most metro PD’s are under significant pressure to under report serious crime because of how it effects the local politicians,enrollment at Ga State, grants and tourism so somehow armed robberies get written up on a citation(not legally appropriate) and theft crimes don’t get written up at all.. It is so bad the they had to let the World Congress Center start and run their own police force or crime was going cause that complex to end up like Underground..So get off Macallenlover’s ass with the MSNBC “dog whistle” shit ….he ain’t racist he’s right. .

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            • Hey, go sit in any public place at 2am and let me know what you find. This just in: bad things happen at 2am.

              No one has tackled my original question: if downtown Atlanta is so unsafe, then why does it keep getting Final Fours, CFP games, Super Bowls, the CFB Hall of Fame, etc.?

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              • To clarify, because I see where this is headed, I’m not saying I’d load load the family up on a random Tuesday night and take a stroll around there.

                Mac’s original post was that people in town for next year’s CFP game will need protection bc it will be so unsafe, to which I robustly call bullshit. I’ve been down there for a myriad of big events and never felt unsafe–certainly no more so than at any big event in any other large metropolitan city.

                Don’t get it wrong, there are certainly bad parts of town where I’d feel unsafe, but the Dome/CNN/Phelps at a huge event isn’t one of them.

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                • Macallanlover

                  No question, major events and tourist areas in almost any city, has better security and is safer than the city as a whole. Problem is many do not stay next door to an event, and do not know the streets/turns, or areas. That can be when booking a hotel, eating at a restaurant, or trying to find an attraction. ATL is worse than most, imo, but in a broader area.

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              • Macallanlover

                Because at least another hundred factors are also considered, and weighted. I don’t care if you choose to go all over Atlanta every day/night for your business, home, or entertainment choices, that is up to you as an adult. But the truth is all American cities are more violent than they were decades ago, and Atlanta is high on the list. I watch the Atlanta news everyday of the week, and I know what it once was, my opinion is Atlanta has a bigger issue than most.

                There was a time when I felt Atlanta was one of the best cities in America to both live in, and travel to. When I moved away, and then considered returning to buy a home, it was one of the easiest decisions, for me, to look elsewhere. But I don’t attack you for evaluating it differently, nor do I think that makes you a lesser person. And when I think of Atlanta, I always think of it as a whole, not just “downtown”, just so you know what I am including. Bigger cities are no longer my cop of tea for many reasons, but Atlanta is especially high on my “dislike” list. That may be influenced by how far I feel it has dropped in 30-40 years. Just an opinion. Stay safe.

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            • Erk's Forehead

              Yeah, get off Mac and wewoof’s ass. They drove through downtown once in the 1980s when they got a chili dawg and Cocola from the Vahsity. They know what they’re talking about. The black faces they prefer, thankyaverymuch, wear football helmets and make their appearances only on TV screens.

              Besides, downtown is a helluva lot safer without these ancient, racist, gun-totin’ idiots around. Hell, look what their Buckhead buddy Tex McIver did last time he was driven through downtown. “Gangbangers, thieves and crazies”, indeed.

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              • Uglydawg

                Today’s ironic news on ATL stations…”The body of a murdered woman found in Underground Atlanta has now been identified”
                Georgia State students are constantly being warned not to walk to the parking lot alone. Same at GT.
                We can’t have it both ways..GT gets slammed here (by me usually 🙂 for being a dangerous campus. Is it or isn’t it?
                Most of you are being very hypocritical…PTC puts down South Ga. by implying the people of Hahira are unsophisticated. Some of you jump on the bandwagon thinking you somehow are superior to Mac based on a simple statement.
                “ancient, gun-totin’ idiots…..that’s really a classy statement Erk’s Foreskin.

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        • Uglydawg

          Mac…I’ve known you on here for years and it pisses me off to see people judging you or anyone else because of one position or statement.
          None of us is perfect..not even Derek or Bluto..(just some comic relief there..).so I’m going to say that all these holier than thou blowhards that are so quick to throw stones, need to back it off. We’re all flawed.

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          • Macallanlover

            Thanks for the kind words, but I don’t worry about those who judge with no insight. So many are quick to condemn and never realize how closed their minds are as they take a word, or sentence, or more, and run with it never knowing the other’s perspective, life’s experiences, or the total context. They will grow up and get better, hopefully. This type of forum, like so many others promotes misconceptions and shallow judgments. The new abbreviated versions are even worse, hope they don’t lead to further jumping off cliffs with no idea what of what they are saying. And yes, everyone is flawed to some degree. You just hope they will open their eyes and realize what they aren’t seeing because they already know everything.

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  5. Russ

    I think I paid $40 (gladly) for a ticket to the Sugar Bowl against ND. You’re right, this has gone the way of the Super Bowl. Sad.

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  6. PTC DAWG

    Ticket pricing this past game was a perfect storm..easily driveable, rabid fan bases etc….nice to see a packed house that truly cared.

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  7. Go Dawgs!

    It raised the profile of certain games, sure, and that’s a good thing. But it also severely degraded the profile of other games, including some of the games that built the sport in the first place. More coverage is a good thing. More exposure is a good thing. The desire to make the sport work just like every other professional sport because the average sports fan who doesn’t care about college football doesn’t understand the bowl system and mythical national championships is a very, very bad thing.

    College football is a lot more fun than pro football. It needs to stay as quirky and unique as it can. We’ve reached the point where the national title is another Super Bowl and if Georgia gets there I won’t be able to go, which sucks.

    This far, no further. Please.

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  8. When I first read this, I read Charlie Watt’s career. Then saw the Weis. First reaction was WTF.

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